101 FIRST DANCE SONGS

The following is a true story....

The year is 1972, and Jay and Sue's wedding is days away.  They meet with their bandleader (yes, they hired a band; that's just what people did back then) to review the final details for their reception and reveal their special request for their first dance:  The Doors "Come On Baby Light My Fire."  It is the one song, they explain, that truly captures their essence, and they can't imagine a better or more fun piece to which to dance for the first time as husband and wife.  The bandleader agrees that they have chosen quite a unique song, but proceeds to inform them that, unfortunately, the band "doesn't know how to play that one." HOWEVER, he suggests, why not dance to something *almost* as good, that the band CAN play?

And, so, my parents ended up commemorating their first dance with The Carpenter's "We've Only Just Begun."


By Bryan Flounder Schlossberg 

  

The first dance is one of the most important parts of the wedding reception.  Generally occurring immediately after your introduction into the ballroom as a married couple, it is one of the few moments of the evening that garners the attention of all of your guests, and shares with them an intimate and personal aspect of your relationship.

Because of the sentimental nature of this dance, a lot of couples are intimidated by the prospect of choosing the perfect song for them; either because the tune they consider to be their "Song" isn't appropriate for a first dance, or because they realize they've never had a "Song" and want to select something worthy of representing their distinct relationship.  For those couples, I have compiled a list of 100 First Dance songs, plus a bonus.  These songs are great-sounding, ideal for weddings, and meaningful.  Regardless of the song, though, please be considerate of your guests and request that your DJ edit down the song to two or three minutes in length.  A true professional will easily be able to accommodate your request at no additional charge.

I hope that this list inspires you.  Please share, and don't forget to comment below!

1960's

We start our list in the 1960's.  This decade features eleven classic love songs that are perfect for a first dance.  It features "At Last," which I've heard a bajillion times (and I'm sure you have, too), but still makes people cry.  Brian Wilson's masterpiece "God Only Knows" is also included.  I have chronicled alternate versions of songs in parentheses.  Be sure to check out Ingrid Michaelson's cover of Elvis' "Can't Help Falling In Love." Also listed: songs by The Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Sonny & Cher, and more. 

Etta James -  At Last - 1960 (Beyonce)

Ben E. King - Stand By Me - 1961

Elvis Presley - Can't Help Falling In Love - 1961 (Ingrid Michaelson)

Frank Sinatra - The Way You Look Tonight - 1961 (Maroon 5 / Michael Buble)

Sam Cooke - Cupid - 1961

Sonny & Cher - I Got You Babe - 1965

The Beatles - In My Life - 1965

 

The Beach Boys - God Only Knows - 1966

When A Man Loves A Woman - Percy Sledge - 1966

Louis Armstrong - What A Wonderful World - 1967 (IZ)

The Zombies - This Will Be Our Year - 1968 (OK Go)

 

1970's

This decade showcases eight solid selections.  The Elton John video featured below has been viewed over 40 million times, and is considered one of the greatest love songs of all time.  Stevie Wonder's "You Are The Sunshine Of My Life" is also listed.  Fun fact:  Wonder did not sing the first four lines of the song; the first two are sung by Jim Gilstrap, with Lani Groves singing the following two.  Also on this list: Joe Cocker, Bob Marley, The Jackson 5 and more. 

Elton John - Your Song - 1970 (Ellie Goulding)

The Jackson 5 - I'll Be There - 1970 (Mariah Carey)

Bill Withers - Lean On Me - 1972 

Stevie Wonder - You Are The Sunshine Of My Life - 1973

Joe Cocker - You Are So Beautiful - 1974

Billy Joel - Just The Way You Are - 1977

Bob Marley & The Wailers - Is This Love - 1978

Bob Seger - We've Got Tonight - 1978 (Kenny Rogers / Philip Phillips)

 

 

1980's

It wasn't all synthesizers and drum machines in the 80's. This decade features 18 song selections.  I've included "Earth Angel" in this category which was originally done by The Penguins in 1954.  Earth Angel was covered by "Marvin Barry & The Starlighters" for Back To The Future. Other acts that made the list are Journey, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, blind musician Jeff Healey, The Honeydrippers (Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin) and the theme song to one of the greatest love stories, "When Harry Met Sally." 

Dire Straits - Romeo & Juliet - 1981

Journey - Open Arms - 1981

Stevie Nicks & Don Henley - Leather & Lace - 1981

Kenny Rogers - Through The Years - 1982

Bryan Adams - Heaven - 1983 (DJ Sammy Candlelight Mix)

Cyndi Lauper - Time After Time - 1984

REO Speedwagon - Can't Fight This Feeling - 1984

The Honeydrippers - Sea Of Love - 1984

Madonna - Crazy For You - 1985

Marvin Berry And The Starlighters - Earth Angel - 1985 (The Penguins) 

Heart - These Dreams - 1986

Peter Gabriel - In Your Eyes - 1986 (Jeffrey Gaines) 

Van Morrison - Someone Like You - 1987

Harry Connick Jr - It Had To Be You - 1989 (Frank Sinatra / Michael Buble)

Jeff Healey - Angel Eyes - 1989

Rod Stewart - Have I Told You Lately - 1989 (Van Morrison)

The Bangles - Eternal Flame - 1989

U2 - All I Want Is You - 1989

 

 

1990's

The 1990's features 27 perfect songs for your first dance at your wedding.  There are some real gems from this decade.  A lot of music from movie soundtracks are featured on this list, music from:  Robin Hood, Batman Forever, City of Angels and The Wedding Singer.  Also, IZ's classic "Somewhere Over The Rainbow / What A Wonderful World" debuted in 1993.  K-Ci & Jojo's "All My Life" came out in 1998, always gets a huge reaction whenever played.  

Mariah Carey - Vision Of Love - 1990

Bryan Adams - Everything I Do (I Do It For You) - 1991

Extreme - More Than Words - 1991

Firehouse - Love Of A Lifetime - 1991

Nat King Cole & Natalie Cole - Unforgettable - 1991 (Nat King Cole)

Sade - No Ordinary Love - 1992

Vanessa Williams - Save The Best For Last - 1992

Israel Kamakawiwo'ole - Somewhere Over The Rainbow / What A Wonderful World - 1993

All-4-One - I Swear - 1994 (John Michael Montgomery)

Boyz II Men - On Bended Knee - 1994

Mazzy Star - Fade Into You - 1994

Rascal Flatts - Bless The Broken Road - 1994

Seal - Kiss From A Rose -  1994

The Pretenders - I'll Stand By You - 1994

The Rolling Stones - Sweethearts Together - 1994

Mariah Carey & Boyz II Men - One Sweet Day - 1995

The Spice Girls - 2 Become 1 - 1996

LeeAnn Rimes - How Do I Live Without You - 1997 (Trisha Yearwood)

Savage Garden - Truly Madly Deeply - 1997

Adam Sandler - Grow Old With You - 1998

Goo Goo Dolls - Iris - 1998

K-Ci & Jojo - All My Life - 1998

Phil Collins - True Colors (Cyndi Lauper) 

Shania Twain - You're Still The One - 1998

98º  - I Do (Cherish You)  - 1999

Lonestar - Amazed - 1999 (Boyz II Men)

Tim McGraw - My Best Friend - 1999

 

2000's

The 2000's feature 28 first dance songs for your wedding.  If you like piano or acoustic guitar, this is your decade.  Songs by Coldplay, Alicia Keys, Dave Matthews Band, O.A.R. and DHT's stripped down cover of their club hit "Listen To Your Heart."  Adele's cover of Bob Dylan's "Make You Feel My Love" is a very popular choice as well.     

Corey Smith - First Dance - 2000

Huey Lewis & Gweneth Paltrow - Cruisin' - 2000 (Smokey Robinson)

Lee Ann Womack - I Hope You Dance - 2000

'NSYNC - This I Promise You - 2000

Ben Folds - The Luckiest - 2001

Norah Jones - Come Away With Me - 2002

Alicia Keys - If I Ain't Got You - 2004

Ray LaMontagne - Hold You In My Arms - 2004

Coldplay - Fix You - 2005 (Tyler Ward & Boyce Avenue)

DHT - Listen To Your Heart - 2005 (Roxette)

James Blunt - You're Beautiful - 2005

Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova - Falling Slowly - 2006

Jack Johnson - Better Together - 2006

Snow Patrol - Chasing Cars - 2006

Big & Rich - Lost In This Moment - 2007

Dashboard Confessional - Stolen - 2007

Joss Stone - L-O-V-E - 2007 (Nat King Cole)

Michael Buble - Everything - 2007

Adele - Make You Feel My Love - 2008 (Garth Brooks / Billy Joel)

O.A.R. - On My Way - 2008

Plain White Ts - 1,2,3,4 (I Love You) - 2008

Taylor Swift - Love Story - 2008

Beyonce - Halo - 2009

Dave Matthews Band - You & Me - 2009

Foo Fighters - Everlong (Acoustic) - 2009

Jason Mraz & Colbie Cailat - Lucky - 2009

Paul Weller - You Do Something To Me - 2009

Sam Hart - Mario Kart Love Song - 2009

 

2010's

I've included 8 songs from the 2010's for our list.  Christina Perri's beautiful "A Thousand Years" comes from the Twilight soundtrack and is a very suitable pick.  If you are looking for an upbeat first dance, Bruno Mars "Marry You" is a great choice.  Zedd also turned his club / pop hit "Clarity" into an acoustic romantic ballad.  Whichever song you pick, you really can't go wrong.

Marry Me - Train - 2010

Bruno Mars - Marry You - 2011

Christina Perri - A Thousand Years - 2011

Jason Mraz - I Won't Give Up - 2012

The Lumineers - Ho Hey - 2012

Matchbox 20 - Overjoyed - 2013

Ed Sheeran - Kiss Me - 2013

Zedd feat. Foxes - Clarity (Acoustic) - 2013